Thinking Outside the Books - Homeschool Math Lab Days

At homeschooling convention yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with many mothers on how to think "outside the book", when it comes to our homeschooling. I'm not advocating never use a book or change a program, but rather, help them see that there are many ways to "show what you know". It is also important for us to help our children see that real learning happens all the time, not just when they fill out worksheets or sitting at our school table.
Thinking Outside the Books

One way we have added a little spice our homeschooling over the years is the day of weekly math lab. One Sunday I plan for us to leave the math curriculum on the shelf and do some hands-on learning with games, crafts, etc. Mathematics Lab days are also great for using math software you have sitting around, but it may never get around to using. Or how about math games you have purchased, but usually remain on the shelf collecting dust?

Just what are the things that you can do the math lab today? I'm glad you asked!
Little child

* Counting games with candy, Legos, or anything else you might have lying around.
* "War" with a regular deck of cards or create your own decks with the number 100 and may be "wild cards" or two to make things more interesting.
If you have it, Snap cube (a popular manipulative) are great to play with, making "Trains" patterns of different colors. You start the pattern, and you add a child on the train followed the pattern. Then let them start a pattern and you finish it.
* Any board game that requires dice and counting.
* Use standard items and non-standard to measure things around the house. "Hey, mom, do you know the cat is 50 paper clips long?"
* Kitchen - baking involves using lots of real life fractions - while you're at it, how to share the "fruits" of your math lesson with a neighbor!
* Play store

Elementary through middle school

* Math with literature! We love Sir Conference, where zero, equal Schmequal, and other titles in the math adventure series.
* Our favorite Math Games are S'math and Knock Out! Of mugging’s math - we just purchased their new fraction games, too.
* Board games, including monopoly, Payday! sequences and more.
* Card games like UNO and war. Favorite is to use flashcards with math facts as our "war" deck.
* Videos: Multiplication Rock, Rock money
Play store and many other activities from the list above
If you have a handheld electronic toys, mathematics, and Lab day is a good time to make sure they are put to use
* Computer game - money Town, mathematics Blaster, etc.
* Using the activities of the "Family of mathematics", "Math for Smarty pants", or "Games for learning mathematics."
* Plan an imaginary trip and use a map to find how many miles you will travel.
* For kids interested in the stock market, you can use the Lab days each week to track and check out some stocks, plotting their progress on charts.
* Visit one of the websites math fun, free online games like Arcade mathematics in There are many more free websites for online learning in my book, use the Internet in Your homeschooling.

One other idea that we have done, not only to the Lab, but as a way to add some more real application to our math lessons is the "Mommy Bank". I give each of my kids a blank checkbook registry or savings. Allowances they "direct deposited" into their mother's bank account. They have to add the amount each week. They also deposit money received them odd jobs birthday, etc. When they buy something, I pay for it and we were cut off from their accounts in the Mommy Bank. Of course, children often choose to keep their money with them, but it worked fine when they are younger or for children who are not yet ready to carry cash.

The above list is just some of the things we have done in the math lab for years. Writing this article has reminded me that my own homeschooling has fallen into a bit of a habit. Sounds like tomorrow needs "Outside the Book" kind of day!


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